At the inaugural meeting, the Self Care Forum was asked to take over the running of Self Care Week. This week long annual event has gone from strength to strength, in its first year as organisers there were less than 50 participants; in 2018 more than 600 organisations participated which reached more than half the population in England! The Week has grabbed the attention of influencers overseas and in 2018, the European Union helped to fund Self Care in Europe which held its first Self Care Week in Europe campaign, something that will be repeated in 2019.
2020 will mark the dawn of a new Self Care Forum as it establishes a new relationship with PAGB which has been its benefactor since 2011. The Self Care Forum continues to be the only national organisation in the self care space that supports the practice of self-medication as part of its wider ethos.
Self Care in Heath Policy
PAGB has always realised the importance of influencing Government to effect policy change, and when it comes to self care, this is just as critical. The work PAGB and its partners have done over the years has ensured that the ideas of self care as an integral part of health care are firmly embedded in Government health policy documents.
Indeed, after decades of lobbying, meetings, events, consultations and briefings there is now a plethora of health policy highlighting the importance of self care; dating back to 1979, when it appeared in the Royal Commission Report which considered the “best use and management of the financial and manpower resources of the NHS”.
Intelligent self-medication and care can undoubtedly reduce demands on healthcare services and it is essential that society accepts the need for appropriate self care”
Royal Commission Report on the NHS, 1979 (5.19)
In the late 1990s PAGB worked closely with the Patient Empowerment Team at the Department of Health to ensure self care was included in the seminal 2000 NHS Plan. The Plan recognised self care as the “front line to health care in the home”, noting that “most healthcare starts with people looking after themselves and their families in the home.”
Speaking at PAGB’s 2002 Annual Conference, Hazel Blears, Junior Health Minister said
One of the key pillars of the NHS Plan is self care….Supporting self care is not about saving money. It is about spending resources effectively on activities that help people look after themselves and their families better in the way they would like.”
The tipping point for self care came when the sheer weight of health policy documents (at least thirty) enshrined self care as a core principle in health care. But the journey is far from over.
Defining Self Care
In 2005, confusion over what is self care and what is self management of long term conditions had PAGB leading a meeting with the Department of Health and stakeholders from the health profession to agree its official definition of self care. The definition wasn’t exactly succinct:
“Self care is the actions people take for themselves, their children and their families to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health; meet social and physcological needs; prevent illness or accidents; care for minor ailments and long-term conditions; and maintain health and wellbeing after an acute illness or discharge from hospital.”